Mapping a World: Basic Setup

2017-09-27
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Time to dig into the details on how to visualize a Fantasy World in 3D glory!

In this case we will create a landscape from scratch and not one based on an existing map or story, so no need to use a reference map. How to use a reference map will be part of one of the next projects, lets keep it simple for now 🙂

The first step is to create the 3D terrain. My go to application for this is World-Machine which uses visual flow chart programming, making it highly flexible. But starts with an almost empty sheet, which is daunting for most,  I remember my first struggles with trying to figure out the basics. 

To learn the basics I highly recommend Discovering World Machine Video tutorial by Geekatplay and can be found here.

If you can't resist and look at some of the advanced WM courses at Geekaplay, I encourage you to do so you will learn a lot that will be needed as we progress here. Geek at Play tutorials shows you how to create a great looking terrain and give it appropriate colors. That is great but we want to do so much more than that!

Our aim is to create large maps with realistic features that incorporate a ultimately a whole world and all its glory. This requires a more advanced setup that leaves room to add components as needed, and a myriad of export formats, reference maps, layout input and a bunch of controllers.

The mission for today is to create the basic framework for all this!

The first thing to do is to do the General Setup. You can find it  under the World Command Menu as Project World Parameters. The General Setup Tab I'm set things like this:

The two things that requires attention here is Terrain Altitudes, Base Elevation and Dimentionality.

Terrain Altitude in this project will be 10 000 m, WM uses either Kilometers or Internal units so lets stick with Kilometers. Since there will be no ocean depths in this project set the Base Elevation to 0 m. 

Next step is to set up the Device Network. Below is a screenshot of what it looks like:

The network for this project is basic, three groups: Controllers (purple), Terrain (green) and Output (red).

The Controllers Group have now only two Layout Generators. More will be added as the project progresses.

The Terrain Group have Child Groups for different types of terrains (plains, highlands, lava fields and so on). Right now there are only two Child Groups, more will be added as we progress.

The Output Group only has a Heightmap Export Device and an overlay View Device. There will be more for textures, elevation maps and more, in the future.

This was a walk through of the setup and basic Device Network. Next post  will be a look at each of the Terrain Types......